Vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains contain HUNDREDS of disease-fighting and immune-boosting substances called phytochemicals. I have talked about this before...remember, phytochemicals are the substances found only in the plant kingdom that PROTECT us against cancers and all kinds of cardiovascular diseases. Many phytochemicals have yet to be discovered.
One of the most important ways phytochemicals give us health is antioxidants. We all have free radicals running around, (remember, free radicals cause cell and tissue damage that leads to cancer), antioxidants can stop these free radicals AND can repair damage done by these nasty little things. Nutrients and phytochemicals that act as antioxidants include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium, lycopene, lutein and the carotenoids.
Remember, phytochemicals may also stop the growth of cancer cells, improve immune function, block carcinogens, and help clear out toxins or other damaging substances. The following tips will help you get the those phytochemicals into your diet:
- Eat a fresh fruit or vegetable at every meal and snack.
- Buy convenient packages of washed and cut fruits and vegetables to grab and go---or make your own!
- Keep vegetable cooking to a minimum to maximize the amounts of phytochemicals they contain. However, the exceptions to this rule are carrots and tomatoes which have an increased phytochemical content when cooked.
- Try a new fruit and vegetable every week. There are thousands of different varieties.
- Go to a local farmer's market for seasonal produce, which is often fresher than what's in the supermarket.
- Buy frozen vegetables and add to soups and sauces.
- Sprinkle a few nuts or dried fruits on top of your salad. Add flaxseeds to cereals and oatmeal. (Flaxseeds are loaded with omega-3 also)
- Keep frozen fruit on hand to make breakfast smoothies and really good frozen treats, (ice cream!)
- Add berries to cereals and salads. (Bob Harper, trainer on the Biggest Loser, tells us to eat berries EVERY SINGLE DAY).
- Add barley, beans, peas and lentils to soups and stews.
- Use fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, and basil to give dishes wonderful flavors.
- Use lots of fresh garlic, onions and ginger to flavor dishes.
- Include cooked tomatoes in dishes as much as possible. For instance, use tomato sauces for beans, sandwiches, potatoes, soups and stews.
Also, now is a great time to start eating really healthy...we are going into our growing season here...there will be a lot of fresh produce stands popping up everywhere. Farmer's markets are another great place to shop...everything is fresh! So pile your plate with all the colors of the rainbow...remember, all those colors are where the phytochemicals are.....
When you give your body what it needs, it will heal itself....NO PILLS REQUIRED!